Words: Isobel Armstrong
Spilt Cities’ Whirlpool initially reminded me of Smashing Pumpkins’ familiarly brilliant 1979 intro. A psychedelic melody multiplied by an eerie bassline. It’s an interesting fusion of themes - and detected trace elements of post-hardcore add a bit more edge and anger to the usual quietness of an experimental rock song. In a nutshell, Whirlpool has a bleak spirit and a hardcore push, all honeyed over a pleasingly distorted ethereal hook.
Hearing and understanding lyrics is often cast as an unnecessary and overused element of modern psych-rock, especially within the relative confines of otherworldly mood music that we so often partake in at Mojo’s, The Bird, and The Rosemount. The vocal precedent set by POND’s Man It Feels Like Space Again is generational and resilient. Now, I can appreciate a moving semi-instrumental as much as the next person- but I need words to really tie me in and tide me over.
The real kicker to me is that Spilt Cities have showcased something I find to be lacking in Perth’s psych-rock scene: audible and comprehensive vocals. Whirlpool is broken up by emotively sombre lines sung in a true emo style. ‘Your tongue’s bitter, mine has no taste left’ was particularly pertinent.
It’s not my intention to characterize Spilt Cities with the qualms of pure psych-rock. Indeed, the band classify themselves as a blend of indie, emo and post-rock. By introducing a melancholic vocal element to indie mood music with the traditionally poignant post-rock baseline combo, Spilt Cities has crafted a track I can really appreciate, but also comprehend.
Another promising tune from our ever-growing underground scene.